Col. Larry W. Odom, USAF (Ret.)

Retired Colonel Larry W. Odom, age 80 of Cedartown, Georgia, passed away on Friday, March 8, 2024.

Larry Wayne Odom was born on January 14, 1944 in Cedartown, to Lester and Ida Odom, the sixth of seven children.

He grew up on a sharecropping farm in Polk County, Georgia and, like his brothers and sisters, helped provide for his family anyway he could. He had farm chores and picked cotton in the fields in the summers and after school. He looked back on his childhood fondly except for perhaps the time his younger sister Joan Ellen stabbed him with a butter knife and then hid in the hog pen. He still made time for many adventures in the backwoods of Polk County and would often tell his children bedtime stories of the fictional “Cedar Creek Gang” that was based on his youth.

Young Larry had no idea he was poor. When a charity stopped by the Odom household to provide some food and other necessities when he was a young child, he asked his mother who those people were. His mom explained there were nice folks in the world who sometimes gave to the poor.

“Well, why don’t we ever give to the poor?” he asked while looking through the house trying to find things to donate.

He excelled at Cedartown High School and was the Co-Captain of the football team, the Senior Class President, and received the Senior Superlative of “Most Outstanding” when he graduated in 1962. He cruised Main Street on Friday nights as all Cedartown teens did with that same butter knife-wielding kid sister in the backseat because his mama said he had to take her, even accompanying him on dates from time to time.

He attended Berry College in nearby Rome, GA for two years participating in a program in which he would attend classes one quarter and work the grounds the next quarter.

He met Gloria Jean Willoughby in 1964 after he transferred to William Carey College in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. He graduated in August 1966 with a degree in Education. He and Gloria married on August 20, 1966 in Jackson, Mississippi.

The couple taught school and Larry coached football in Mississippi and then Florida. He was the running backs coach on Clay High School football team in 1967-1968 when they one the state championship in Florida.

Before being drafted for the Vietnam War, he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in 1969 where he became a B-52 pilot. He flew 187 missions, including several over downtown Hanoi, the most dangerous enemy target, and was the co-pilot on the first B-52 to ever shoot down an enemy MIG. He never forgot his brothers who lost their lives in combat and his service is a continued source of pride for his whole family and for the Cedartown community at large.

After Vietnam he made a career of the Air Force and rose to the rank of Colonel serving on both bomber and missile bases all over his beloved United States for 27 years.

He loved living in different parts of America and his two children, Larren, born in Arizona in 1970, and Amy, born in Montana in 1976, benefited immensely from moving every three years or so. They never meet a stranger.

But upon retirement from the Air Force in 1997, there was never a question about where the next chapter of his life would take him.

He wanted nothing more than to return to Cedartown, Georgia, to positively contribute to the town in which he was raised. He served as the director of the Polk County 911 Center (1997-2007) and served 3 four-year terms on the Cedartown City Commission, and ultimately as its Chair.

He loved golf more than flying and had many a “Dog Fight” at Cedartown’s Cherokee Country Club surrounded by friends whom he adored. He could often beat “the house” playing Blackjack at casinos in Philadelphia and Biloxi. You think you could tell him a joke he’d never heard? NOPE. When golf became too difficult, he could be found in the Cherokee Clubhouse playing gin with his buddies snacking on those famous “hot chips”.

His beloved wife Gloria fought a long battle with dementia and there was never a day when her hand went unheld. He even started getting pedicures because she wouldn’t go to the nail salon unless he went with her. He was known as the Candyman at the nursing home because he regularly brought treats to the residents and staff.

In the last three years of his life, he was blessed by the love of his wife, Linda Webb Killen Odom, who brought him joy, companionship, and care. They had many good times together. She loved watching sports and she loved helping him with his “Colonel and the Kid” fantasy football team that Larry shared with his grandson, Charlie. She was by his side until the very end. “Lulu” has been a wonderful companion to Larry and a bonus grandmother to his beloved grandchildren.

He is survived by his wife, Linda; son Larren Odom (Jennifer) of Atlanta; daughter, Amy Odom of Mobile, AL; brother, LR Odom (Patti); sister, Joan; grandchildren, Paul “Joseph” Milazzo, Emily Odom, Rebecca Milazzo, Charles Odom, and Anna Odom; Linda’s daughter, Sarah Killen Ellman (Ben) and granddaughter Rowan Ellman, as well as many amazing cousins, nieces and nephews, grand-nieces and grand-nephews.

He was preceded in death by his parents Ida & Lester Odom, his wife Gloria; and his siblings Glenn, Wilma, Charles & Jack.

Obituaries are prone to hyperbole and like the rest of us Larry Wayne Odom was not perfect.

But the world needs more men like “Colonel”.

The memorial service for Retired Colonel Larry Wayne Odom will be held on Thursday, March 14, 2024 at four o’clock in the afternoon from the First Methodist Church of Cedartown with Full Military Rites.

In lieu of flowers, please make donations to the Priest Discretionary Fund at St. James Episcopal Church of Cedartown.

Messages of condolence can be made to the family by visiting our website and signing the online guestbook at

The Olin L. Gammage and Sons Funeral Home is honored to be entrusted in the services for Retired Colonel Larry Wayne Odom.

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